Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and one of the major causes of death by cancer. A woman’s breast is formed of fat, connecting tissues, lobules or tiny glands that produce milk for breastfeeding and ducts that carry the milk to the nipple. When these body cells start multiplying uncontrollably, they initiate the cancer. These form tumors, which may seem like a lump and can be seen during an X-ray.
Women should keep a check on the normal look and feel of their breasts. Although, it is recommended that women have regular mammograms and screening tests once a year. The most common sign of a benign cancer may be a new lump, which may be tender, soft and round or having irregular edges. They can be painful as well. In such case, you should immediately check with the concerned health care provider. The possible symptoms of breast cancer are:
- Skin irritation
- Swelling of whole or part of breast
- Inverted nipple
- Nipple discharge, containing blood
- Redness, thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Pain in armpits or breast
- Peeling, flaking or scaling of the skin
The precise cause for breast cancer is not clear, but there are certain risk factors involving the growth of cancerous cells. A benign cancer may develop onto a malign tumor. It is a known fact that mutations in DNA may cause normal breast cells to turn cancerous. Some of them may be inherited, while most of the DNA changes may be acquired at a later stage in life. The various risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Family history: the risk is high for those who have a close relative having the disease.
- Body weight: Women who are obese or overweight possess high risk of developing breast cancer due to increased estrogen levels in the body.
- Menopause: those who enter menopause later than 55 are at higher risk
- Alcohol consumption
- Radiation exposure: undergoing radiation treatment for cancer apart from breast cancer may increase the chance of getting breast cancer at a later stage.
Breast cancer arises from the cells of the breast when they multiply excessively and turn into confined tumors or as calcium deposits. They may spread to the lymph nodes within the breast or to other organs through the blood. The treatment of the breast cancer depends on several factors such as type & stage of the cancer, patient’s age, overall health and sensitivity to hormones. The different treatment procedures consist:
Depending on the diagnosis and medical condition of the individual, the surgery shall be performed either to remove a part or whole of the breast or the nearby lymph nodes. Before you book the surgery packages online, it is important that you are aware of the different surgeries involved. The 2 main types of surgery involved in removing breast cancer cells are:
1. Breast-conserving surgery (Lumpectomy)
In this kind of surgery, surgeon removes only a part of breast containing cancer. The part of breast to be removed depends on the size and location of the tumor.
In Mastectomy, the whole of the breast is removed along with the breast tissues as well as the nearby tissues. This is the preferable option for those who have large sized tumors and a treatment history. Some women may consider restoring the appearance of their breast after having a mastectomy. This surgery is described as breast reconstruction.
Apart from surgery for breast cancer, which involves removal of the breast cancer cells, there can be cases where it may have spread to the axillary lymph nodes. In such cases, sentinel node biopsy and Axillary lymph node dissection needs to be performed:
This therapy involves controlled doses of radiation targeting the tumor to eliminate the cancer cells. When used along the chemotherapy after a month of surgery, it kills the remaining cancer cells.
This therapy is specifically used to prevent the recurrence in hormone sensitive breast cancers. It’s the only method for those who cannot undergo surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. These include hormone receptors such as tamoxifen, ovarian suppression and aromatase inhibitors.
It is used to treat the cancer that has spread to other organs. It may help to reduce symptoms when used in later stages. It is often used to inhibit estrogen production as it speeds the growth of cancer cells.
Breast cancer may be prevented by following certain lifestyle changes such as, having a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, avoiding excess alcohol consumption and maintaining proper body mass index.